Buzzwords vs Impact: How can the industry move beyond the nemesis of overhyping and retrofitting?

While shades of tech, creativity and anything to do with data continue to surface as the most over-hyped words in marketing galore, experts from the marketing and advertising industry suggest that its time that the focus be shifted from them to solving real-life problems and creating jaw-dropping experiences for consumers to make a lasting impact

Shreya Negi
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Buzzwords vs Impact: How can the industry move beyond the nemesis of overhyping and retrofitting?

In today's fast-paced digital era, marketing and advertising professionals are constantly seeking innovative strategies to capture consumers' attention and deliver impactful messages to their audiences. Amid this, there have been certain words that have garnered tremendous hype and fascination such as the Metaverse, Generative AI, Creative Awards, ROI, etc. delves deep into the heart of the marketing realm to uncover some of the most hyped words that are reshaping campaigns and captivating audiences in India and find out what is it that they suggest agencies and execs do instead to make a difference in the real world rather than going into a procrastination of sorts- be it in terms of creativity, tech, talent, etc.

Rajeev Jain

According to Rajeev Jain, Senior Vice President- Corporate Marketing, DS Group, the role of marketing teams and advertising agencies is to develop strategies focussing on business goals, serve customers and generate revenue, ensure the product and branding look good, and market themselves better.

“While Metaverse, NFT, AI, and Machine Learning are some of the buzzwords used in the brand and agency ecosystem, currently, to showcase the technological prowess of the organisation, I believe we should first focus on brand objectives, strategy, and developing a compelling brand proposition. These new age mediums or buzzwords should be used only if we feel it will help in better articulation of brand proposition and connecting with the target audience, otherwise not,” he said.

He also went on to add that because it is important to communicate effectively with your target audience, these tools may help connect better with the target audience by speaking in their language, especially the Gen Zs, for they are hooked on these latest technologies and are following the trends.

Poulomi Roy

Similarly, Poulomi Roy, CMO, RSH Global, also emphasised that performance marketing, measurement matrix, metaverse, and AI, amongst others are some of the terms that frequently make their way into her conversations.

“There is a prevailing notion that AI will eventually replace human resources in creative fields, but I strongly believe that this belief is nothing more than a myth. In my opinion, it is crucial for humans to embrace AI as a tool to foster innovative solutions. However, I firmly stand by the belief that AI cannot replace human resources when it comes to managing tasks such as script writing or advertisement shoots, and similar endeavours,” he opined.

Commenting as to whether in her opinion, should the marketing and advertising industry be focused on more creativity and fewer buzzwords, she said that the marketing and advertising industry would immensely profit from an infusion of heightened creativity and a decreased dependency on buzzwords, because even though it can be tempting for brands to hop onto the bandwagon of trending concepts like the metaverse, virtual influencers, and Generative AI, it is crucial to prioritise genuine creativity that deeply engages and resonates with audiences.

“I do believe that people in the advertising industry should not be averse to technological development, but these developments should be applied for actual requirements, for the right reasons. In fact, I feel that developing a tech-based application or technology has become increasingly common and less expensive nowadays. But, it has come to a stage the technology is seeking out for solving a problem that really exists, which is the foremost step in itself, rather than developing a technology, creating a problem and then retrofitting it to get it solved by the technology that you have developed,” she opined.

Therefore, in her view, by placing emphasis on innovative ideas and authentic storytelling rather than chasing fleeting fads, marketers can craft campaigns that leave a lasting impact and endure over time. It only becomes a cause for concern when these developments become haphazard and are solely driven by the desire to showcase technological superiority, she said.

Ajay Kakar

Sharing a slightly similar point of view, Ajay Kakar, Brand and Marketing Strategist, also stated that technology and all shades and constituents thereof have been the buzzwords of the advertising, media and marketing industry for many years, now. These include terms like data, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, etc.

“All these are words that we have heard and celebrated over the last few years, however, I personally believe that the industry should be more focused on the wow experiences that can be created with the courtesy of the use of these because what would a consumer be more interested in- aam or guthli?” he said.

He then went on to question that if the case is such, why are we, as an industry, focused on and celebrating the tech innovations and developments, which are akin of the ingredients, rather than the end product i.e.- wow, memorable and never expected experiences, that stay in the minds of our consumer and create conversations, buzz and advocacy?

“The more genuine, sustainable or never-before experiences we celebrate, it will be beneficial to both our consumers and our industry. And the day we can create experiences, properties and assets that consumers can enjoy for an extended duration of time, without questioning, guessing or even knowing the ingredients behind it, we will have evolved as an industry,” he said.

A recent case in point he experienced, was the ABBA Voyage show, in London. As he elaborates, they may have used all that tech has to offer, and more. But all that the viewers throng the auditorium is the mesmerising 90-minute experience that makes one believe that the original band is actually performing in front of them.

Karthi Marshan

Upon being questioned as to whether creative awards are “good” for both agencies and brands in the pursuit of long-term brand building, Karthi Marshan, Advisor, Kotak Mahindra Bank, stated that he had once heard, “All awards are BS. Some awards are useful BS”, and that he agrees to it wholly.

“Awards might help agencies build their brand with both current as well as prospective employees, but outside of that, not so much. Anyone who has read as many award submissions as I have knows how to take the much-abused phrase ‘exceeded the target by over xx…’ with a huge pinch of salt,” he said.

He further went on to add that discerning clients tend not to be swayed by awards, for they can judge for themselves what impactful work looks like and that brands don’t need their advertising to be awarded for them to succeed, they only need their advertising to work.

Adding to Marshan’s viewpoint, DS Group’s Jain also emphasised that the first priority for any marketer or agency exec should be to understand the business challenges; add value to the organisation, the brand, consumers, society, and the entire ecosystem at large rather than just aiming for awards, because winning an award while meeting these objectives is definitely an acknowledgement of one’s efforts and is highly satisfying and motivating, can boost the teams’ morale and pride and thereby contributing to positive work culture, but one should never dilute the focus on core business objectives just to win the award.

“A meaningful and purposeful work is extremely important to win creative awards. However, it's important to note that creative awards alone do not guarantee business goal achievement. While they can certainly contribute to brand building and industry recognition, other factors like market strategy, product quality, customer service, and overall brand experience play a critical role in a brand's long-term success,” he said.

Similarly, Kakar also went on to point out the one thing he has always believed in- If one wants creativity just for the sake of creativity, then the best place to put the work is in an Art Gallery!  But since at the end of the day, we are in the business of creativity, we must celebrate work that works in the marketplace, he said along with expressing the belief that such success will be celebrated by all constituents of the industry, be it agencies, media or marketing.

“If it's just creative awards, it will predominantly be celebrated within the ad agencies and fraternity, and that I believe is a very unfulfilling celebration. Brands are not built in the minds of the industry, they are built in the minds of the consumers and if it is they who have seen and been impacted by the work, it’s a success. And that's why I believe effectiveness in the marketplace in business terms or in consumer terms should be the final filter and frontier for all of us,” he stated.

With this, RSH Global’s Roy also denoted that in her views, both brands and agencies should follow a sustainable approach which would be mutually beneficial for them in the long run for platforms like Cannes Lions or other similar ones which felicitate marketing and advertising. She also drew attention to the fact that long-term effectiveness for both brands and agencies can only be achieved when agencies prioritise the brand objective as the core focus when designing a successful brand campaign and subsequently submit the campaign for an award nomination.

“However, if we happen to see the reverse psychology to be in place, i.e. the objective happens to be designing a campaign only for getting an award and trying to retrofit it with the brand, I think that approach would neither be beneficial nor successful in the long-run for both brands and agencies,” she said.

She also went on to add that while it may appear idealistic and utopian, the recommended approach should be to identify the challenges faced by a brand and develop a campaign as a solution, followed by making an effort to nominate that campaign to prestigious platforms such as Cannes Lions.

That being said, she also pointed out, “In the contemporary world, due to increased cross-functional awareness, individuals from both within and outside the marketing domain demonstrate interest and actively participate in festivals such as Cannes Lions. This diverse group of participants may include opinion leaders, brand owners, and direct consumers. Consequently, gaining visibility at esteemed platforms like Cannes contributes to the credibility of both brands and agencies, thereby adding value to their reputation.”

consumer experiences technology creative awards most overhyped words campaigns Cannes Lions buzzwords Karthi Marshan Poulomi Roy Rajeev Jain Marketing brand building advertising RSH Global measurability retrofitting Ajay Kakar